Tuesday, 12 April 2016

Re-handling a pair Japanese hammers


My day finished up a little early yesterday, and I knew exactly what I would do with my ‘free’ time. 

I have been building up the courage to remove the Boxwood handle from the larger of these two hammers. As I was preparing for it, I realized I have undone very little of my own work. I am not sure if that is a good thing or not, but did recognize how strange it felt. 

I cut the handle off just below the head - the painful part was over. I carefully drilled three holes from the top down - about 3/4" of the way through. I placed a punch in the middle hole thinking I could just pound the waste out. 

I think the Boxwood actually laughed at me. It did not budge. As much as I tried, I could not break it free. I was secretly happy to be honest - this suggested that I had done a pretty good job of handling it in the first place. I drilled all the way through and then grabbed a piece of Sugar Maple to use as a chisel and bashed the waste out. Even this was tough work, but the Boxwood finally gave.

This gave me a chance to weigh the head - something I did not do when I received it. The larger head weighs 17.2oz or 487.6g and the smaller head weighs 10.2oz or 289g

I have been stressing about what to use for the handles for the last week. I could go traditional and use White Oak or Boxwood again. I have seen fruit woods used as well - or I could use Ebony or Rosewood, but for some reason, those do not really appeal to me. I was taking some photos on the balcony when I noticed two lengths of Lilac that have been sitting out there for years. We have a 100 year old Lilac that was likely planted when our house was built. I have been pruning it over the years and have always saved any good sized usable sections. Lilac is certainly not a traditional wood to use for handles, but it struck me that it has many of the same tactile qualities to Boxwood, so I decided to see if I could coax a handle out of each section. Plus the idea of using something that grew on our yard is pretty darn cool.

There was much carnage. 

Lots of checks, voids and other areas to work around, but there was a graceful natural curve to both sections, and as luck would have it, the more solid sections followed this curve.

I roughed out the blanks very oversized, anticipating that they will shrink and deform a bit as they dry in the shop. I used some old glue on the end grain to help slow down moisture loss and keep end checks at bay. 

I tapered them as well, thinking that getting close to the final shape will help speed up the drying process. This is going to be the toughest part... the waiting.

A few shots of the two hammer heads. 

I am not sure how long I will have to wait before I can start handling them, but I will certainly post when it happens. 


Blogger Owen Crane said...

They look great! I was wondering how long they would take to acclimatize. I can't remember whether you have mentioned it or not - do you have a dehumidifier kiln? If you don't, (or do) how much would you use it? I know you're not one to rush seasoning!

12 April 2016 at 09:06  
Blogger Ethan said...

Those are beautiful, Konrad. And to find one in the wild like that? Oooh man, you must have some good Karma built up!

Can't wait to see the next step. But... I suppose we'll have to wait a bit, won't we?

Ah, well.

12 April 2016 at 09:58  
Blogger Konrad said...

Hi Owen,

I do have a dehumidification kiln, but have not used it in some time. I really prefer to just give things time. And, at the rate that I go... things seem to get more than enough time to dry all on their own. That being said, they are pretty small pieces now and (fingers crossed) should dry fairly quick.


12 April 2016 at 17:08  
Blogger Konrad said...

Yeah Ethan - we are going to have to wait. I think I drained the Karma reserve for this one... I can't believe I found it... and that nobody else bought it before I did.


12 April 2016 at 17:09  
Blogger Kevin Brehon said...

This feels like a stupid question, but what are these hammers used for? It would seem that by using a curved handle one end of the head is being taken out of use. Are they reversible?

12 April 2016 at 22:27  
Blogger Konrad said...

Hi Kevin,

Not a stupid question. I used the larger hammer for all sorts of tasks. I used it to install my herringbone floor, I have used it when tapping furniture parts together, I have used it with a chisel. The curve I have roughed out is a little more extreme than I hope the final shape will be - but a gentle curve is nice. The boxwood handle was curved as well and the curve told me which face was facing which direction. One end of the hammer head is flat, the other is domed.


12 April 2016 at 22:34  
Blogger John said...

Nice job, wood polisher. Quick question: will these hammers work with corded nails?

14 April 2016 at 22:49  

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